2nd Annual book-a-rama Awards: The Best

Last year I had some fun making a list of the best and worst books I read in 2007. I enjoyed it so much I decided to do it again this year. So here it is the 2nd annual book-a-rama Awards ©2008.

The Best

Again I get to look back at all my reads of the year and wonder if any have stuck out as extraordinary. I read quite a bit this year, many of them brand spanking new books. Let's take a looky at the best.

Best Survival Story: Classic riches to rags story. Girl is born a princess, thrown in prison for years, parents beheaded, brother tortured- fun stuff. Somehow Marie-Therese (daughter of Marie Antoinette) survives with her dignity intact. Hurray for her! I really enjoyed Marie-Therese: Child of Terror by Susan Nagel (although it bored my mom to tears).

Best Love Story: Ash and Juli from The Far Pavilions takes this award. Picture a dashing hero and an exotic heroine separated as children then reunited (and it feels so good) just as she's about to be married. Ash is an uber-heroic dreamer and Juli a realist but somehow they defy the cultural standards of both the East and West to be together.

Best Protagonist: Again it's got to be bad-ass Annie Seymour from Shot Girl, the latest installment of Karen E Olson's Annie Seymour Mystery series. Apparently she does have a heart, it's just buried way down there somewhere.

Best Quirky Novel: Really this award has to be shared by two books I read this year: First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde and Yellowknife by Steve Zipp. I think it's a given that any Thursday Next novel is going to be quirky but Yellowknife was a surprise which leads to...

Best Pleasant Surprise: After sitting on a shelf for a year, I finally got to Yellowknife by Steve Zipp. I wasn't sure what to expect and I guess a fear of the unknown kept me from reading it. It didn't take long for this strange little book to have me hooked.

Best Depressing Yet Compelling Read: It's just one of those books that has engaging characters and great writing but, Dear Lord, can anything else horrible happen to these people? The book I'm speaking of I read for the 2nd Canadian Books Challenge: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. A great book but consider yourself warned.

Best Shocking (Holy Crap Shocking!) Turn of Events Award: Of course a story about civil war isn't going to be roses and puppy dogs, but the shocking event that occurs in Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones made my jaw drop. No gentle lead up, just shock and awe.

Best Frightening Glimpse of the Future: "It was a pleasure to burn." We're talking books, people. In Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, firemen burn books while a few risk their lives to save them. It was frightening how accurate Bradbury's vision of future technology was. A little too accurate.

Best Vampire/Zombie Novel: Another two-way tie, Victoria Gardella kicks vampire butt in The Rest Falls Away by Colleen Gleason while Robert Neville is the last man alive in I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. The Rest Falls Away is Buffy meets Georgette Heyer where I Am Legend is a post-apocalyptic vampire/zombie tale of survival. I enjoyed both even though they were two very different stories.

Best Girl Power Book: I had to think on this one but it's Coraline by Neil Gaiman. Okay, so Coraline shouldn't have gone through that door, but she keeps her cool and saves the day. A nice strong yet relatable heroine for girls.

I could probably go on forever. It was a great reading year with many awesome books. I can't wait to see what next year brings. But now....


The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
It's a book that has it all. Love, redemption, horrifying medical procedures...but with great writing and a compelling story. At the end, I was left with many questions but I like a book that does that.

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  1. Oh, fun reading! I just got a copy of Mr. Pip, last week (from Paperback Swap). Now, you've got me nervous and excited at the same time. Must squeeze it in!!

    I'm going to do my annual recap in a week or two -- gotta finish out 2008, first. I can't bear to write a recap before the time period has literally ended.

  2. I've only read 2 of those books - Fahrenheit years ago and The Gargoyle. I loved The Gargoyle too.

  3. I tell you, all of these "best of" lists are just filling up my to-read list!

    Out of your picks, I've only read Fahrenheit 451, and thought it was scary and brilliant.

  4. I definitely agree with you about The Far Pavilions being the best love story! And Coraline being the best girl power character! I haven't read any of these others but most of them are going on my TBR list for next year! Thanks :-)

  5. Nice recap! I'd have to vote for Frankie Landau Banks as the best girl character, though. :-)

  6. I loved the Gargoyle! Great choice! It made my best books of 2008 list!

  7. Love your awards! You made me even more curious about Mister Pip and The Gargoyle.

  8. Wheee! That was fun! I've read a few of your choices, but I still have others (Mister Pip!) on my shelves. I'm looking doubly forward to it now!

  9. Bookfool- It's a great book. I hope you like it.

    Bermuda & Sheri- I think it's going to make a lot of 'best of' lists.

    Carrie- I love reading what everyone read at the end of the year.

    Andrea- They are a super couple.

    Ali- I'll have to look that one up.

    Nymeth- I hope you give them a try.

    Andi- I think you might appreciate the Dickens angle.

  10. What a great list. I loved Coraline, it creeped me out. The Gargoyle is on my bookshelf; I'm going to have to read it soon. Happy New Year!

  11. I second that emotion re: The Gargoyle. I love an ambiguous ending when it's done well, and Davidson's storytelling was mindblowingly good, especially for a first-time author.

  12. Gargoyle was one of my favorite reads this year also. So great to see Yellowknife on your list - I thought it was such a fun read!

  13. I love reading your best and worst list. :-) Annie is a cool protagonist. And Fahrenheit 451 is definitely frightening, especially when you consider how true it is today.

    A Fine Balance and I Am Legend are two books I hope to read one of these days.

  14. Great post Chris! I read a lot of those this year and agree heartily with your reviews.

    I really want to try and read the Karen Olsen this year and I am intrigued by your best love story.

    I can't remember what the surprise was in Mister Pip! That seems odd, but it must not have made the same impression on me.
    Happy New Year!

  15. Mister Pip was one of my favourite reads from last year, so I totally get that one! I really liked that book.

    I was looking at my best of list the other night and I could almost say that The Gargoyle was my favourite book of the year too... But, there were a lot of other good ones, so I will just stay with a list.

  16. I'm so honored that Annie made it on your "best" list! And yes, she does have a heart, but don't say that in front of her :)

  17. Coraline is a great choice for Best Girl Power book! My six year old saw the movie trailer for Coraline at the theater yesterday and now she can't wait to see it too!

  18. I'm going to have to reread Farenheit 451!

  19. Awesome choices! I've got several on my TBR stacks -- I might have to move some of them up now.

  20. Sweet list!! I'm right there with you on A Fine Balance. Fantastic book. But damn...so depressing!

    Happy New Year to you, the hubby and Norah!!

  21. These are great! I agree, Annie is a fantastic protagonist. And, wasn't A Fine Balance just so depressing... Incredible book but I swear I couldn't get it out of my mind for days.

    Happy New Year!

  22. I keep seeing The Gargoyle everywhere. I'm going to have to read it.

  23. The Gargoyle is right up there for me as well!!

    Happy New Year!

  24. Vasillis- Yes, it was quite creepy.

    Rebecca- It was a great 1st book. I hope he does as well with his next.

    Joanne- Yellowknife needs more attention, I think.

    Feline- It was scary.

    Raidergirl- Not so much surprising as "I can't believe that just happened."

    Kailana- It's hard to narrow them down.

  25. The Saturday Review at Semicolon this Saturday is dedicated to book lists. You’re invited to share a link to yours on Saturday.

    The Gargoyle, huh? I'll look it up.

  26. Karen- Not if I wanted to keep my front teeth!

    Stephanie- I'd love to see it myself!

    Iliana- I still think about those characters.

    Carrie- Give it a try.

    Marg- I thought it was a great debut.

    Sherry- Thanks, I love Semicolon's Saturday Reviews.

  27. Wow!! Thanks for including my book on your list! I'm flattered and delighted to be in such good company!


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